Basic math skills: how to use a deck of cards to practice counting and sorting with kids


Whether we are planning a meal or organizing the contents of an office, counting and sorting are math skills that we use every day without giving it much thought. Preschoolers need these basic skills to build the foundation for more complex tasks like addition and subtraction. A fun way to introduce your child to these concepts is as easy as rummaging in a drawer for a deck of cards. With so many numbers and symbols, cards are a great tool for toddlers to learn math. Here are a variety of simple math related card activities for your child that you can do with a deck of cards and some Cheerios or little candies.

Examine the cards

Introduce your child to the card game through the lens of math. Ask your child what he notices about the cards. List the different qualities they offer. Colors, shapes, numbers, combinations of colors and numbers. You can say, “What shape are the cards?” “” What’s on one side? “What’s on the other side?” “What color is the heart?” Face cards can be a bit tricky to mix up with the numbers because they don’t have numbers on them, but you can save them for sorting.

Count them

After asking your child, “How many cards do we have? »You can let your child count them as they wish. It may be easier to turn them over so that the numbers do not make the counting more complicated. If they can’t count to 52, consider dividing the cards into groups of five to 10 (sorting!) And counting them face down.

Make a sorting game

Organizing the cards in different ways helps your child understand how numbers and symbols relate to each other. A number is a character with real meaning. Ask your child if he wants to sort the cards in a certain way. You can say, “Can we put all the blacks together?” »« And all the red ones? “Can we group all of those with the same numbers?” If the options are overwhelming, just start with the face and number cards and say to your child, “Put all the cards with faces in one pile and all the number cards in another.” Then move on to more specific categories like grouping all cards with numbers and hearts.

Focus on cardinality

Cardinality is the number of elements in a group. For example, the cardinality of a deck of cards is 52, since there are 52 cards in a deck. An easy way to compare groups is to create groups of the same cardinality. This is where the figures come in. Have your child organize all the figures of the same type. You can say, “How many queens are in this deck?” Next, organize the figures by color by asking “How many groups of cards are in this deck?” Comparing similar sets is a good way to introduce this important skill, as the similarities and differences are more obvious to a young eye.

Order the cards

Take out the 1-10 cards and place them in front of your child. In this case, the ace is the only card. If you need to, you can roll a “1” on each ace or consider using a small children’s deck of cards like Uno. Have your child line up cards from 1 to 10 according to the number on the card or the number of symbols. Depending on your child’s age, you may need to start with fewer cards at a time, such as one through five.

Bring treats to make the numbers real

Working with manipulatives (things your child can touch and move) helps a child relate the abstract number to a tangible quantity. With the one to 10 cards laid out, take the Cheerios (or little candies) to bring these numbers to life. Your child can place a Cheerio on each heart / clubs / spades / diamond or line up the cheerios next to each card. Let them find the best way to organize their Cheerios.

Have your child count the Cheerios with each card. You can ask, “How many Cheerios do we need for this card?” How many are on this one? So that the number on the map becomes real since it is connected to tangible objects.

Compare cards

Using the cards and Cheerios, help your child compare the cards in terms of bigger or smaller. Select two cards at a time and ask “Is this card bigger or smaller than this card?” Then add more cards (with or without Cheerios) to ask, “Which is greater: four, seven, or nine?” ”Lay out a set of three cards out of order in front of your child and ask,“ Can you put them from the smallest to the largest? Now the numbers make even more sense!

Make pairs

Choose 10 cards at random from the game and arrange them in front of your child. Then have your child choose two identical cards to introduce the concept of pairs!

You can turn this into a fun kid versus parent game. First, have your child select 10 cards at random and make as many pairs as possible with those cards. Then you select 10 cards and see how many pairs you can make with your set. Who has more pairs? Look at the remaining cards and see if there are any pairs that can be made when working together.

Add and subtract

If your child is ready, choose two simple cards like two and three and place them side by side. Then ask your child to add them up. They can count the symbols on the map or use the Cheerios to help them. If they can add, they can also try to subtract. You can help them by saying, “If two plus three is five, what if I remove both cards and his two Cheerios?” “” How much do I have left? “

Clean by ordering them again

Once your child is ready to move on to a new activity, use cleaning time as the last sorting session. Have your child place the cards in the box in a specific order. You can say, “Let’s put all the cards with clubs first, then spades, hearts and squares.”

While it is helpful to guide your child in counting and sorting cards, make sure the cards are still accessible so that he can play with them at their own pace and in their own way. Math is everywhere and it’s more fun when you don’t have to work too hard to find it!


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